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Miklos Haraszti
The United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus has urged Belarus to immediately introduce a moratorium on executions.

In a statement on October 9, Miklos Haraszti expressed disappointment regarding last month's Supreme Court ruling to uphold a death sentence handed to 23-year-old Pavel Selyun. Selyun was convicted of killing his wife and her lover in August 2012.

Two other death sentences were handed down in Belarusian courts this year for murder charges.

Five executions were held in the period 2010-12.

Haraszti said it was "unacceptable" that "nontransparent and politically guided courts hand down death-penalty sentences at the end of a procedure without guarantees of a fair trial."

He also described the lack of transparency and statistics on executions in Belarus as "deplorable."

Belarus is the only country in Europe that retains the death penalty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holding the Olympic flame during a ceremony in Moscow on October 6
Some 40 members of the U.S. Congress have sent a letter to the United States Olympic Committee asking for assurances about the treatment and safety of U.S. athletes and spectators at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The letter said lawmakers are concerned about what it called "Russia’s anti-lesbian, -gay, -bisexual, and -transgender law."

Citing a spate of attacks on homosexuals in Russia, the letter said the lawmakers are worried about the safety of people who may disagree with the Russian law.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, called Russia’s treatment of gays "nothing short of reprehensible."

READ NEXT: Gay-Rights Activists Confront Corporations On Sochi Olympic Sponsorship

The Russian law bans the spread of what it calls homosexual propaganda to minors.

Critics say it bars gay-rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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